The Swedish system for disaster management is based on an all-hazards approach. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) facilitates coordination of measures for prevention, preparedness and response, across sectors and levels of government.
The responsibility for crisis and disaster management resides at national, regional, and local levels.
The crisis and emergency management system is based on 3 principles. The principle of responsibility that means that actors retain their ordinary responsibilities in situations of crisis and disaster. This principle also includes a responsibility to support other involved parties as necessary. The principle of proximity that means that crises and disasters should be managed as close as possible to those primarily concerned. The principle of similarity, which means that the methods and structures used in crisis and disaster management, should be as similar as possible to those used in normal circumstances. The geographical responsibility to manage an event lies with those parties most directly affected. The rescue services are organised at the local level.
Swedish laws related to prevention and mitigation of risks include but are not limited to the following acts: 1.The Civil Protection Act (2003:778) (LSO) (SFS 2003) aims to strengthen preventive and mitigation work. Municipalities are required to develop action plans with measures for prevention. 2. Ordinance (2015: 1052) on Emergency Preparedness and the Measures to be taken by Designated Authorities in the Event of Heightened Alert aims to ensure that government agencies, through their activities, reduce society’s vulnerability and continually increase the ability to handle their tasks during peacetime crisis situations and before and at times of heightened alert. 3. The Act on Municipal and County Council Measures Prior to and During Extraordinary Events in Peacetime and during Periods of Heightened Alert (2006:544) (LEH) (SFS 2006b) focuses on preparedness for extraordinary events.
Sweden has a continuous process for national risk assessment. The national risk assessment points to risks within the categories antagonistic hazards, unintentionally manmade hazards, natural hazards and biological hazards.
A number of the risks can, in worst-case scenarios, lead to catastrophic consequences. These include a radiological event from a nuclear power plant, a dam rupture and a pandemic. Cross border assessments have been made in the past, notably the ash cloud assessment carried out jointly between the Nordic countries
Risk management planning
All parties responsible for the protection of people, the environment or the functionality of vital societal functions, are responsible for preventing and preparing for disasters. Planning and financing of risk management is included in the budgets for public sector bodies. An additional annual yearly budget for prevention and preparedness is coordinated and allocated based on national risk and capability assessments. Measures taken to reduce disaster risks aim to create capabilities with an all-hazards approach.
Risk communication and awareness raising
In 2017 Sweden decided that it was necessary to inform the population about how different crises and war can affect daily lives and about the ways to prepare in order to handle a severe strain on society. The booklet If Crisis or War Comes was distributed to all households. The Emergency Preparedness Week was initiated by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) to increase risk awareness and crises preparedness of population, and make the municipalities develop measures to communicate about crisis preparedness to their inhabitants. The website Dinsäkerhet.se gives risk information to the public (films, podcasts, checklists). Social media platforms are another platform for communication.
Training and exercises
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) provides training and exercises for organisations, public authorities and individuals at both national and international level. There are national programmes for professional training in prevention and operations on different levels for personnel of the fire and rescue services. Courses are mainly conducted at the MSB College in Sandö and Revinge. Customised training are offered to local authorities and the private sector. MSB delivers international training programmes in close collaboration with the UN and the EU, both on strategic, tactical and operational level. MSB is involved in development and delivery of the EU training programme including training courses and exercises.
Exercises are organised throughout the system. At the national level, larger coordination exercises across sectors are conducted regularly.
Early warning systems
The primary early warning system is radio, TV, and the outdoor alarm system of 4,500 alarm installations using sirens. A SMS system sends warnings to mobile phones in an affected area. The fire brigades who mainly use this system and the chief in command has the mandate to use it. The police and other organisations can also use this system. Separate indoor and outdoor alarm systems operate in the inner emergency planning zone around Sweden’s nuclear power stations.
The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) issues weather reports and warnings to the public via the official radio and TV-channels. SMHI is also a service provider to the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS). SMHI calculates the fire risk for grass fire and forest fires. SMHI communicates information about when there is a high fire risk to municipalities, county administrative boards, the public, the forest industry, and the media. Sweden communicates the risk levels for forest fire divided into 6 different levels. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and SMHI, have a special service that also shows the risk of thunder and lightning strikes and various weather indicators.
In the Swedish disaster management system municipalities and country administrative boards have respective responsibilities within their geographical areas. On a local level, this entails a responsibility to maintain services like water distribution, schools and rescue services during crises, while the county administrative board primarily has a regional coordinating role. As a national agency, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s (MSB) operative assignment is to coordinate, support and facilitate involved parties in response to accidents, crises and emergencies, nationally and internationally. MSB can provide additional resources to municipalities and county administrative boards and other countries, EU and the UN in the form of materials or competency. MSB has registered a number of national capacities within the European Emergency Response Capacity.
Cross-border, European and international cooperation
Sweden and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) is extensively involved in international cooperation in a number of fields, including:
CBSS, EUCP, Haga, IHP, IPA projects, Nato CEPC, Nordred and transatlantic cooperation. Sweden is an active actor within international humanitarian and civil protection missions.
The responsibility for host nation support in Sweden stays with the party requesting international support, e.g. local rescue services, county administrative boards or government agencies.
Facts & figures
For general questions:
For partnership/EU-financing questions:
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency
Address: Packhusallén 2
SE-651 81 KARLSTAD
Phone: +46 (0) 771-240 240
The Swedish Coast Guard
Address: Bastionsgatan 18
SE-371 23 Karlskrona, Sweden
Phone: +46 (0)776-70 70 00
Last updated; 24/08/2021